U.S. Water News Online
LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- With water no longer spilling from
Lake Tahoe, the flow of the Truckee River is becoming more of a
trickle, shrinking the likelihood of a fully-watered growing season
in the Lahontan Valley next year.
The level of Lahontan Reservoir, where the valley's irrigation
water is stored, is at about the same level as this time last year.
But at that time Lake Tahoe still overflowed into the river that
Although it's too early to predict what lies ahead for next year's
crops, Truckee-Carson Irrigation District Engineer Dave Overvold
said, "we're going to need a bigger snowpack (this winter) than we
got last year."
The district is still diverting everything it can from the Truckee
River at Derby Dam to help fill Lahontan Reservoir, but Overvold said
it will still be well below its target storage level by the end of
the growing season.
The flow of water below Tahoe has dropped substantially, even with
the help of water TCID owns and is releasing into the river from
Donner Lake. That water will run out soon, Overvold said.
The flow through the Truckee canal is also low enough that the
district will likely soon start rationing water meant for
Those farmers in the Truckee Division of the Newlands irrigation
project will still get 100 percent of their water allocation,
according to the district, but farmers may have to take turns
There soon won't be enough water moving through the canal to water
two farms at once, Overvold said. Some farmers will have to take
their water at night if they want to get their full allocation.
With 77 percent of the average growing season having gone by,
Newlands Project farmers have used about 82 percent of their water.
No end date has been set for the irrigation season but it generally
wraps up in the middle of November.
Overvold says the district's operations appear to have been highly
efficient again this year. The district has exceeded its federal
efficiency goal in each of the last four years. Overvold said there
were very few canal breaks this year, saving the district "a lot of
water" and a lot of money. He credited the happily uneventful year to
experienced ditch riders.
Even the most efficient irrigation practices may not save the
local farmers from a water shortage, however, if northern Nevada's
five-year drought extends another year.
"We do need to be watching the snowpack this winter," Overvold
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